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SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION John Vasconcellos, Chair 2003-2004 Regular Session BILL NO: AB 356 AUTHOR: Hancock AMENDED: June 23, 2003 FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: July 2, 2003 URGENCY: No CONSULTANT:James Wilson SUBJECT: K-12 Pupil Testing SUMMARY This bill revises the state testing program to repeal school and staff rewards programs, provide for diagnostic assessment but not standardized testing in grade 2 and delay the requirement to pass the exit exam for high school graduation. BACKGROUND Current law requires school districts to annually administer standardized tests to pupils in grades 2 to 11 under the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. Currently, pupils take both the California Standards Test, which is aligned to California's adopted academic content standards and a national norm- referenced test that is currently the CAT/6 "off the shelf" basic skills test published by CTB/McGraw-Hill. The CAT/6 tests reading and language arts, spelling and mathematics at grades 2 through 8, and reading and language arts, mathematics and science at grades 9 through 11. Scores on both the standards test and the norm-referenced test are currently used to establish each school's API, or Academic Performance Index. Current law also provides for a Certificated Staff Performance Incentive that provides one-time performance awards of up to $25,000 to teachers and other certificated staff in schools with APIs below 6, where the academic performance of pupils improves beyond the percentage growth target established for a given year. Awards can only be made when funds are budgeted for them and no appropriation has been scheduled in the pending budget. Current law authorizes a Governor's Performance Award Program to provide monetary and non-monetary awards to schools that meet or exceed API performance growth targets. The financial awards may not exceed $150 per pupil to the schools and the non-monetary awards include, but are not limited to, classification as a distinguished school, listing on a published public school honor roll, and public commendations by the Governor and the Legislature. Current law requires that all pupils, beginning with the 2003-04 school year, pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) in mathematics and language arts in order to graduate and receive a diploma of graduation from high school. In the spring 2002 administration of the CAHSEE, only 48% of pupils passed both parts of the exam and only 13% of disabled students passed the test. AB 1609 of 2001 (Chapter 716) required a study of whether standards-based instruction is sufficient to support the use of the CAHSEE for the Class of 2004 and authorized the State Board of Education to decide, after reviewing this study, whether the CAHSEE requirement should be deferred. The study has been completed and shows that most pupils have not had the opportunity to learn the subjects on the exit exam. At its meeting on July 9, 2003, the State Board of Education is expected to delay the requirement to pass the CAHSEE in order to graduate. Superintendent Jack O'Connell has already cancelled test administrations that were planned for this summer and fall and called for a two year delay in the graduation requirement. Current law calls for the State Board of Education to consider, and recommend to the Legislature, other criteria by which high school pupils who are regarded as proficient but unable to pass the high school exit examination may demonstrate their competence. Suggested criteria include exemplary academic record and alternative tests of equal rigor. ANALYSIS This bill: 1) Repeals the Certificated Staff Performance Incentive Rewards program. 2) Repeals the Governor's Performance Award Program. 3) Repeals the requirement for STAR testing in grade 2 as of July 1, 2004. 4) Requires the State Board of Education, assisted by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to examine alternatives to testing pupils in grade 2 in order to inform instruction (diagnostic) and be consistent with best practices in early childhood pedagogy. The Board is required to report its finding to the Legislature by February 15, 2004. 5) Delays the requirement to pass the exit exam in order to graduate high school by two years so that the initial class required to pass the exam will be the class of 2005-06. 6) Authorizes school districts to decide how to use the results of the high school exit exam as part of their local graduation requirements until the 2005-06 school year. 7) Requires the State Board of Education to report by February 15, 2004 on criteria that might be employed as an alternative to the high school exit exam in order to allow capable pupils to receive a diploma without passing the exam. STAFF COMMENTS Conforming to the Budget In a previously amended version, this bill would have repealed the STAR testing requirement for grade 2 effective with the 2003-04 year. However, the conference committee version of the budget bill continues funding for grade 2 testing for the 2003-04 year and this bill has thus been amended to make its repeal of second grade testing effective July 1, 2004. This revision will also give the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education time to consider and report to the legislature on possible alternative diagnostic assessments that might replace STAR testing in grade 2. SUPPORT Association of California School Administrators California Alliance for Arts Education California Association for Bilingual Education California Association of Resource Specialists and Special Education Teachers California Association of Student Councils California Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education California County Boards of Education California Federation of Teachers California School Boards Association California State PTA California Teachers Association California Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Californians for Justice Fair Assessment Network School Voices United Teachers of Los Angeles Letters from Individuals OPPOSITION California Federation of Republican Women California Business for Education Excellence ATTACHMENT California Standards Testing The California Standards Tests in English language arts, mathematics, science, and history/social science are required as follows: All students in grades 2-11 take the English Language Arts grade level exam. Students in grades 4 and 7 also take a writing test, which is incorporated into the total English Language Arts score for those grade levels. All students in grades 9-11 take the History/Social Science grade level exam. All students in grades 2-7 take the Mathematics grade level exam. Students in grades 8-11 who have completed or are taking Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, or 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year Integrated Mathematics take the appropriate course subject exam. Students in grade 11 who have completed or are taking Algebra II or 3rd year Integrated Mathematics take the grade 11 Mathematics exam. All students in grades 9-11 who have completed or are taking Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics take the appropriate course subject exam.
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